MENTAL HEALTH: Judge Orders DHS to Cover Intensive Home Care
The state Department of Health Services must institute an intensive home therapy program for young, troubled Medi-Cal patients under a federal judge's ruling issued last week. The Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. District Judge William Keller's ruling gives about 200 Los Angeles County children who have failed in traditional psychiatric programs "the right to intensive in-home mental health services," including around-the-clock counseling by one-on-one aides. Mental health advocates applauded the decision, which would create a new program to convert homes into "micro-treatment centers" where child mentors, behavioral aids, tutors and psychotherapists could assist caretakers. Deputy Attorney General James Ahern said the department is not opposed to the intensive home therapy program, but needs more time to plan for the potentially costly, complex program. Marilyn Holle of Protection & Advocacy Inc., one of four public interest firms that brought the suit, said that while a 1989 federal expansion of Medicaid provided for such intensive care programs, states have applied the law differently. The Times reports that the law "says that states must provide for children's mental and emotional disabilities at home if such care is judged medically necessary and cannot be provided in any other setting" (Rainey, 3/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.